Pooch in the Media

My dog Confiture — who I always refer to as “pooch” on social media — has been getting quite a bit of media coverage in Montreal of late. It all relates to the fact that since early 2016, we’ve been basically crowdsourcing walks for him, using a private Facebook group we created that now has over 1000 members (with hundreds more still waiting for approval). It’s mostly done through McGill University students, and so he’s almost turned into an unofficial mascot on campus — if you walk him in the area, you’ll probably get a few people telling you, “hey, that’s Confiture!” A couple of weeks ago, the McGill Tribune, the university’s student newspaper, published this piece, and then this article was published this past Saturday in La Presse, Montreal’s biggest newspaper — I was also contacted by the CBC.

It’s a bit funny to see how much of a local celebrity he’s turned into — he’s certainly the happiest he’s ever been.

I’m So Over This Summer Thing

So how’s your summer going? Is it hot enough for you? I can assure you that here in Tokyo we have had our fair share of hot weather, and it’s in no hurry to stop: A quick look at my weather widget shows a pretty steady mid-thirties for the rest of the week. Enough of this already.

The real question is, how are you dealing with it? I’ll readily admit that summer is my least favorite season — not a fan at all, actually — and so it tends to take the form of a constant countdown until fall. Yes, September can’t come soon enough for me (even though it tends to still be hot in Tokyo, psychologically I can tell myself that the weather is on a downward spiral towards something reasonable).

Of course, it’s also a challenge for my dog — summer in Tokyo is obviously not what a Great Pyrenees needs. But he’s used to it — it’s his 3rd summer — and he just pretty much stays indoors during the day, sleeping near a fan or air con. Walks are done at night, when the air is a bit cooler (but it still doesn’t take very long before he starts panting). We did manage to take an epic walk from Ikebukuro to Harajuku this past Saturday — it takes us about 2 hours both ways — but we left around 3-4, and got there a bit before 6, so we were at least past the midday heatsuck.

Above, a photo taken as we were walking — this is somewhere between Takadanobaba and Shinjuku.

Taking It to the Streets

This past Saturday we walked all the way down from Ikebukuro to Harajuku with the dog, mostly because we wanted to spend some time at the big “dog run” area inside Yoyogi park. It made for quite a pleasant outing (if a long walk), and we also walked around Aoyama a bit — I wanted to check out the Magazine Library event — and also spent some time at a cafe. As you can imagine, we get a lot of attention when we’re out and about with him, and it’s quite normal to have to stop so that people can pet him or take photos.

Above, a photo taken as we were walking through Shinjuku. Below, walking up Takeshita Street in Harajuku.

Dripping

Is it hot enough for you? In what is turning out to be the most uncomfortable summer yet since my arrival in Japan over ten years ago — and yes, that’s even compared to me lying on my back with a broken spine last summer — I’m just trying to make it until the end.

To be honest, I’ve never much liked summer. I don’t particularly like winter either. Me, I just don’t like extremes, autumn (my preference) and spring are my seasons, and so September can’t come quickly enough.

In the meantime, me and my wife both work in our sun room — which is the only room in our house with A/C — desk-to-desk, with usually at least one fan gently doing its thing. My dog Confiture pretty much sticks with us too, although he’ll occasionally go into his cage in the kitchen as the hard plastic bottom seems to be cool for him.

What does this mean in terms of productivity? Well, shit gets done, as it needs to be, but I’ve noticed that even just a short trek outside for a few errands drains me. Yes, I am the living embodiment of my family name.

Despite all this, I’m very happy to report that I’m back on the running kick, something I hadn’t seriously gotten back to since my back injury last year. Evenings are thankfully relatively cool, and so I tend to go out for a run around 22:00. Previously I always used the Runkeeper iPhone app to keep track of my runs, but this time I’ve been trying out Adidas’ new miCoach app, and I’m loving it. What I mostly like about it is that not only does it keep track of your performance, but it actually coaches you along the way, telling you what pace you should be following based on the running program you’ve picked, prompting you when you go too fast or too slow. So far so good, I did my four runs this past week, and I’m running better and longer than I ever have.

So here’s to getting through another two weeks or so of hardcore summer weather, and making the best out of it (i.e. doing my best to avoid it).

Let Me Out

At least that’s what my dog was thinking. I was out just for a bit this morning to run a few errands in the neighborhood, only to get back and find the door in the shape you see above, and a missing dog. He not only broke through the door, but then managed to climb the walls around the garden, which are about a meter and a half high (the gate was still locked). Luckily he didn’t get too far, and someone grabbed him and then called the police. As soon as I got home I headed to the closest koban (police box), and they said they already had him and that they were going to bring him, which they did, in a van.

So yeah, this means I won’t be able to go to PechaKucha Night tonight (Vol. 75), but you should.

Update: Well, wife says she’ll try and get home from work early enough so I can still head out to PKN, so hopefully see many of you there.

Walking this Town

Yesterday after getting lunch at the nearby Maison Kayser — it’s the one located inside Ikebukuro’s Sunshine City with a terrace, so it’s dog-friendly — we decided to just start walking, with the general idea of heading towards Iidabashi. Three wards later (Toshima, Bunkyo, and Taito) we ended up not only stopping for a drink at the very enjoyable Canal Cafe (you sit outside by Kanda river), we continued on to Yasukuni shrine. We wanted to end up at Sanbancho Cafe — it’s also dog-friendly — but there was a wedding reception in full effect, so no go. But the epic walk was an enjoyable one — despite some feet dragging on my part towards the end because of fatigue — and we’ve realized that it’s something we want to start doing more often. It gives us a chance to get out and about without having to leave the dog at home in his cage, which he doesn’t much like.

Pictured, photos taken by my wife near Yasukuni shrine, showing my dog Confiture simply hanging out. I think we should start a regular series of these, with him checking out various parts of Tokyo.